October 23, 2009

ALMOST HALF of Irish teenagers believe the future for Ireland “is not very bright”, national research published yesterday finds.

The survey of young people and their attitudes to mental health was commissioned by the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Office for Suicide Prevention and carried out by Millward Brown Lansdowne.

Asked their opinions of what helps or hurts mental health, 86 per cent of those surveyed regarded isolation as the major factor that could harm it, while 60 per cent felt a good family life could help mental health.

The research, which was commissioned as part of a campaign by the HSE to encourage young people to talk about their feelings and to make them aware that it is okay to ask for help, found the three main pressures were alcohol, peer pressure and drugs.

And while 63 per cent of Irish teenagers said Ireland was a “fun place to be a teenager”, some 43 per cent agreed that the “future for Ireland is not very bright”.

Geoff Day, director of the Office for Suicide Prevention, said the finding reflected a national mood among the population at the moment. The survey was published to coincide with the formal launch of an interactive website aimed at 13- to 17-year-olds, www.letsomeoneknow.ie, and a television advertising campaign encouraging young people to talk to someone about concerns and worries, rather than to keep them to themselves.

The advert also directs people to the website, which helps young people work through their issues, with advice and also contact details for a range of organisations including the Samaritans, Bodywhys (for eating disorders), Childline, Belongto (for lesbian, gay and transgender young people) and Aware (for depression).

The site and the advert were formulated following extensive consultation with young people and youth support organisations.

Since going live on Saturday the site had about 700 hits by lunchtime yesterday and the average length of time spent on the site had been seven minutes, said Mr Day.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times